At least 100 people were killed and dozens injured in a 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck southeastern Afghanistan overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, according to Afghan authorities , who fear a much higher toll.
“More than 100 people were killed in the earthquake,” deputy government spokesman Bilal Karimi told AFP.
“Many houses have been damaged and people are trapped inside,” he added.
“We call on aid agencies to provide immediate assistance to the victims of the earthquake in order to avert a humanitarian catastrophe,” he previously tweeted.
The earthquake, with a magnitude of 5.9, occurred at a depth of 10 km around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday (WELL 21:00 GMT), very close to the border with Pakistan, according to the United States Seismological Institute (USGS). /p>
A second quake of magnitude 4.5 hit almost the same place at the same time, according to the USGS.
According to Yaqub Manzor, a tribal leader in Paktika, many injured came from Giyan district in the province and were taken to hospital by ambulances and also helicopters.
“Local markets are closed and people have rushed (to help) to the affected areas,” he told AFP by telephone.
Photos posted on social media showed collapsed houses in the streets of a village.
Videos also showed residents of the affected areas loading injured people into a helicopter .
The earthquake was felt in several provinces of the region, and also in the capital Kabul, located about 200 km north of the epicenter of the earthquake.
Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range which lies at the junction between the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
These disasters can be particularly devastating due to the weak resistance of rural Afghan homes.
In October 2015, a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.5 struck the Hindu Kush range, straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan, causing the total more than 380 dead in these two countries.
Among the Afghan victims were 12 young girls, trampled in a panic as they tried to get out of their tottering school.
Since coming to power in Kabul last August, Afghanistan has been plunged into a serious financial and humanitarian crisis, caused by the freezing of billions of assets held abroad and the sudden cessation of international aid which has carried the country at arm's length for 20 years, and which is returning now in dribs and drabs.